Wednesday 28 February 2024

Self-Injury Awareness Day

TW: Mention of self-harm and self-injury.

Observed annually on March 1, Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD) is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of self-harm and self-injury. Fran and I haven’t marked SIAD before, but we have shared articles relating to these topics. I thought it would be useful to draw these items together in one place and include a selection of helpful resources.

What Is Self-Injury? Is it the Same as Self-Harm?

These terms are often used interchangeably but there’s a difference, with self-harm being broader in scope. I find the LifeSIGNS definition of self-injury and its relationship to self-harm really helpful.

Self-harm includes many harmful behaviours such as self-injury, but includes such diverse matters as eating disorders, risk taking behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse.

Self-injury falls under the umbrella of self-harm, and is a direct behaviour that causes injury and damage to one’s body.

There’s a very helpful diagram on their website which makes this distinction clear and highlights how complex the interplay between these behaviours can be.

As useful as definitions are, it’s important not to get too hung up on the labels. What matters is that we respect the reality our friends and loved ones are dealing with. That includes respecting the words they use to describe what’s happening for them and why. As LifeSIGNS puts it, “It’s about coping. The harmful actions, the differences between self-injury and self-harm, are not as important as recognising that the person is in distress, and trying to cope.”

I know this from personal experience. On one occasion a few years ago, my insistence on using the label I felt was most appropriate got in the way of being there for a friend who saw things differently. We got past it, but it was a lesson that’s stuck with me.

Being There for Someone Affected by Self-Injury and Self-Harm

Fran and I have shared a number of blog posts dealing with self-harm and self-injury, most from the perspective of a caring friend.

We’ve also shared articles by guest contributors, including:

Fran and I are always happy to receive guest submissions. If you’d like to contribute, on this topic or any other, check out the guidelines on our contact page.

Further Reading and Resources

LifeSIGNS is a forward thinking, user-led voluntary organisation founded in 2002. LifeSIGNS provides a variety of helpful resources, support and training to anyone affected by self-injury; including people who self-injure, friends and family, and health care workers.

Self-injury Support offers support for women and girls with experience of self-harm.

Hub of Hope is a UK based mental health database to help you find serices and support groups local to you.

Find a Helpline helps you find free, confidential support from a helpline or hotline near you. Online chat, text or phone.

Our resources page includes a number of crisis and helpline links.


Illustration based on an image by Nuur Muhammad Husni Labib at Vecteezy.


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